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Dismissed Starbucks Manager Wins $25.6 Million Discrimination Lawsuit

Starbucks has been ordered to pay former manager, Shannon Phillips $25.6 million after dismissing her because she was White. The former regional manager supervised numerous Starbucks coffee shops and was fired after a 2018 incident that occurred at a Philadelphia Starbucks. The ruling against Starbucks serves as a reminder that discrimination based on race can take many forms, and that employers must remain vigilant and committed to creating fair and inclusive work environments.

The incident involved Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, two Black men in their 20s. The two were waiting for a third party for a business meeting at a Philadelphia Starbucks when Nelson was denied use of the restroom because he had not purchased anything.

When a store employee asked if they needed help, the pair declined. Soon after, the police arrived and Nelson and Robinson were handcuffed and removed from the cafe. The incident was captured on video and sparked protests, resulting in Starbucks closing all stores for anti-bias training.

As a result, Phillips, the regional manager was fired from her position, while the coffee shop manager, who was Black, retained his job. Phillips sued Starbucks in 2019, claiming that her termination was racially motivated.

Her lawyers argued that the company was trying to find a "scapegoat" to show that action was being taken following an incident involving two Black men. Phillips was awarded $600,000 in compensatory damages as well as $25 million in punitive damages after winning her case. The jury agreed that Starbucks had violated her federal civil rights and had discriminated against her. The case highlights the complexities of race and employment discrimination in the workplace, especially in a high-profile company like Starbucks.

As stated by employment attorney Helen Rella, “the decision in the Starbucks case, that found Starbucks liable for race discrimination relative to a white employee who was terminated, sends the signal that all races are protected from discrimination – not just those who are considered minorities.” In today’s everchanging world, remaining cautious about decision making and being aware of discrimination laws is imperative for employers.

Workplace Discrimination

Discrimination can come in many forms and includes the following:

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employees and job applicants are protected from employment discrimination. This protection also covers additional employment decisions such as recruitment, terminations, and other decisions involving an individual’s employment. If you have experienced workplace discrimination, it is important that you work with an employment lawyer to protect your rights and advocate for you.

How Our Firm Can Help

At Shellist Lazarz Slobin, we utilize our experience and resources to fight for our clients. Every employee deserves to work in a safe and fair environment free of discrimination. Our legal team is dedicated to advocating for the rights of all workers, regardless of the company's size or power.

We believe that employers must be held accountable for any unlawful employment practices that they engage in, and we strive to provide our clients with the support they need to seek justice. If you are experiencing any form of discrimination at work, don't hesitate to schedule a consultation with our attorneys.

Call (713) 352-3433 or contact us online.